HowTo:Control the playground: Respect through fear

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Whether it be in response to bullying, depression, or the desire to fill the internal drive of conquest passed down from your ancestor Alexander The Great, one thing is clear; you have decided to seek outside help to make your presence one of power and importance out on the playground, rather than one of meekness and irrelvance. While your determination to improve your tactics in recess domination may be admirable, the skill you have in said tactics, as of now at least, is certainly not. Don't worry, that's what this informational pamphlet was made for. No longer will you be destined to live a life in perpetual fear of the shoe induced sand storm that blinds you in a cloud of helplessness and pain. Oh, the miserable, miserable pain. You may feel timid and weak now, your hands trembling and knees buckling beneath the sheer weight of your cowardice; but all of that will change. As you flip through the pages of this brochure,

Kind of like the movie Stomp the Yard, only with faces instead of yards

you will slowly be transformed into the playground king. While you may not notice it at first, by the time you flip that final page you will be a new man, a boy reborn from the ashes of his former pitiful self into a glorious ruler. You will transform the playground into your own personal domain. Children won't run from you in games of tag simply for fear of being deemed "it." Oh no, they will run in fear of the bottom of your shoe being imprinted into the back of their skull.

Kids everywhere will fear your power ranger velcro sneakers.

Know the Playground Dynamics[edit]

Nobody goes from the kids that cries after kickball to the kid that destroys the kickball simply by starring at it in an instant. It does take hard work and practice, but that's what separates the boys from, well, the boys that have read this book. The playground has a very distinct dynamic to it, and a natural balance that consists of several levels of success and popularity.

Incredibly detailed diagram of playground.

It is absolutely essential that you familiarize yourself with the basic mechanics of the playground, for a fundamental understanding of its hierarchy will prove to be your greatest asset. I have taken the liberty to provide you with a diagram that details these levels.

The tire swing[edit]

The tire swing, while being the newest addition to most playgrounds, has done a very nice job in securing its spot. The tire swing brings a certain appeal to the table, and instantly attracts the most wreckless of kids. I like to refer to those who hang around this particular swing as the bandaid crew. These are the kids that firmly believe they can swallow thumb tacs. These are the kids that take up dares that are guaranteed to shatter lives, or at least shatter bones, and walk away from them seemingly unscathed. The kids that bring capri sun in a flask to school just for the sheer shock value of carrying around a flask. Their mothers spent way too much time in front of microwave while pregnant, and as a result they are a very dangerous force; if only for their lack of stability. I won't lie to you, if you tried to walk in to the tire swing area and take it over at this point, you wouldn't be able to walk out. Save the kids with the eye patches for later, and save your teeth for now so you can still eat at lunch. In due time you will be able to assert your dominance over these ruffians. But for now, we must take smaller bites out of the proverbial playground cake.

The traditional (non-tire) swing[edit]

A step away from the extreme and a step towards mainstream, next on the list is the traditional swing set. While the kids that hang out here may not be completely insane, they are more down to earth. What does this mean? Well for you, it means they know what rocks are. And, unfortunately for you, it means they know enough about momentum and velocity to put two and two together and realize that a rock, when traveling at a somewhat rapid speed, will cause a great deal of pain if it manages to connect with the side of your skull. Gone are the eye patches so prevalent in the realm of the tire swing, these kids sport sunglasses. This area also has girls, and at your age you are very susceptible to the deadly disease they carry. No, not cooties. Aids. There, I said it. These kids have aids. You were all wondering about it, and I finally put it on the table. The swing kids have aids. Are you happy now?

The balance beam[edit]

Three is the first station you need to focus on. The division between you (the playground laughing stock) and the balance beam squad is so small it is almost non existent. They will provide you with virtually no challenge. Think about it, they have such poor coordination that walking in a straight line is actually challenging. And above that, they have such a poor attention span, that walking in a straight line is actually entertaining. Both the eye patches and sunglasses are gone, replaced by bifocals that have been nurtured back to usability thanks to the wonder of maskin tape. Oh yes, these kids have been victimized just like you. Yet, despite all of their flaws (of which there are indeed many) they still somehow rank above you on the playground popularity ladder. You may feel awful about first targeting kids that have gone through the same torture that you have. You may feel bad about going after the weakest. But you must realize that, if you want to become the sole ruler of the playground, sympathy or any other spectrum of the moral compass will only slow you down.

The see-saw[edit]

The see-saw. The teeter-totter. Whatever you call it, the description remains the same: gay as hell. There will never be more than two children anywhere near this section of the playground, and when there's only one it's just plain embarrassing. This is the only section of the diagram you don't have to memorize, because you just won't be going here. It's not worth conquering. Imagine it as Alaska. if you were going to take over the US, would you really even bother with Alaska? I mean, would the whole detour through Canada even be worth it? What would you have to justify your trip in the end? Oh wow, we've managed to secure for ourselves a 3000 square mile icebox! Why even go through the trouble with the seesaw? Sure, it's part of the playground, but who really cares? If you invited a fellow child dictator to your playground, would they look around and ask you:

"Well yeah, but where's the board that goes up and down man?"

No, they wouldn't. So just leave the seesaw and the two queer kids on it alone.

Side note: If you are having any trouble in securing another part of the playground, it may actually be in your best interest to seize control of the seesaw. If you manage to befriend a fat kid, you can use it as a catapult to launch a siege attack or, alternatively, use it to catapult yourself directly into battle. This is the only scenario in which you should capture the teeter totter.

The slide[edit]

This baby is your final destination. The roughest, toughest toddlers call this place home. The cool gang perches high upon its ladder, and when they're bored they pierce through the air as they slide down in a euphoric fashion. The kids bare a closer resemblance to giants than mere mortals, and from their glorious post it is easy to assume that they are simply invincible. You must assure yourself, however, that this is not the case. That they too, despite how alarmingly awesome they may look, are succeptible to takeover. More importantly for you to acknowledge is the fact that your arch enemy resides here. The plaground master, surrounded by his posse that attempts to leech off of his coolness and the girls who gawk at his perfectly combed hair. What's worse is that he's reached the position he's at now at your expense. He's kicked sand in your eyes and knocked the chocolate out of your hands, he even took the creative approach and kicked chocolate in your eyes and knocked the sand out of your hands, and for some reason everyone else found this absolutely spine-bustingly hilarious. You'll get revenge in due time, but for now, steer clear of this child hell.

Making the first move[edit]

Now you know your target, but how exactly do you eliminate it? You can't go columbine on them, as what's the point of ruling an empty playground. Also, that would make you an evil bastard and the whole world would hate you. But, to the other extreme, you can't just walts on over handing out flyers and informational pamphlets demonstrating how "totally awesome" your stamp collection is.

Even the balance beam would crumple that up and throw it at your face. No, you need to be firm and cunning. You need to make them respect you. How can this possibly be achieved? By using your greatest weapon; one we will rely upon many times in this book: Fear. But you can't just use any old fear. Telling them that the sandman lives under their beds and that he doesn't eat children but instead uses their organs as floss and that he flosses THREE times a day will do nothing for your cause; it will only drastically increase the stocks in night light companies. No, you have to make the fear personal, bring it close to home. Even harder still, you have to make the fear believable, and you have to create the impression that you have full control over the fear. So this is what you do:

You go home, and you take a six pack of koolaid bursters. You dump out the koolaid, and you fill it with hard liquor. The next day, you hand out the kool aid. Once they're dangerously drunk, you request that they walk the balance beam. With a great sense of eagerness, they grant your wish and hop on. With much less enthusiasm, they fall off. You can also expect them to mumble incoherently about the teletubbies and how much they love them. At this point, you get in the face of whoever you believe the leader to be, and you tell them that if he ever wants to walk the balance beam again, he better not mess with you. You must convince him (or her, but really, since when are women leaders?) into believing that you and you alone are the disturbance that is preventing them from completing their balance rituals. Trust me, they will listen, and they will respect you, worship you even, from that point on. Failing that, you can always slam someone in the ear with a sledgehammer and show the rest of the group how well they'd be at walking the balance beam if that were to happen to them.

In case you don't know, it is next to impossible to traverse the balance beam with a sledgehammer induced injury to the ear.

The Tire Swing- be glad you don't have your permanent teeth yet[edit]

Now you've got the support of the balance beam clique. Unfortunately, it's equivalent to the support of France in a time of war or canada in a time of heterosexuality. They won't get you anything, but they were required for you to build up your experience and self esteem. Now that you've tested your abilities, it is time for the real challenge. You're about to confront these kids, and they only speak one language: hardcore. They've got more scars than you can count, and the band aids they sport will want to make you wet yourself. These kids don't use flintstones or barney band aids, oh no, they use MOTORCYCLES or SKULLS. These kids mean business, and they don't answer to anybody. You have to change that.

While this will be one of the hardest parts of your adventure, it is certainly not the most complex. The only thought involved is planning when to make your actual strike. You must wait for the most opportune time, this is very critical, just when one of the kids has started to gather momentum. At this precise moment you charge the swing, and if all goes well, he swings directly into your readied fist. I know, it sounds primitive, but it's the only thing these suckers will respond to. Best case scenario: they all worship you at this point. However, this will never happen. You have to let them beat you up. Well, you don't have to, but even if you try to resist you will eventually be beat into submission. However, this is all part of the plan. This is what separates you from them: you have the mental capacity to understand that a little temporary discomfort will be worth it in the long run. Once they have done enough damage to jar one of your teeth from the comfort of your mouth, they will stop. They will admire the shiny white enamel they managed to extract from your face, and you will have gained the needed amount of respect from these kids. You may scoop up your tooth, but choose one of the kids to give it to, this will solidify your standing with them. You may lose a little tooth fairy money in the short term, but once you have found yourself in the throne of the playground, you'll be making millions in the baby tooth business. If you know what I mean.

Wait, I don't even know what I mean.

Tips for handling the seesaw[edit]

This section of the book is a look ahead to the final phase. After you have complete control over recess, will you really want to have to deal with the seesaw or have to even look at it? No, so let's just get that out of the way now. Luckily for you, the seesaw is merely a piece of wood. Bring a fire axe, and chop that baby to pieces. Bonus points if you manage to get the kids unlucky enough to be on it at the time. They aren't unlucky because they were chopped in half by a fire axe. They were unlucky because they had to live long lives of seesawing before you finally put them out of their mysery. Don't ask me where to find a fire axe, legally I can't tell you. but I hear the fire station has great PB&J sandwhiches.

Wink wink poke poke FIREAXE FIREAXE

Now's the time to get new shoes[edit]

Buy cleats. This may be the first time in your life that you've heard of cleats, but they are shoes with spikes on the bottom. You'll find many uses for these spikes over time.

The Traditional Swings- Defying gravity isn't too hard[edit]

The easiest way to gain the respect of the traditional swing set is to swing in a full rotation over the bars. This is nearly impossible, but it may actually be the easiest course of action.

The second course involves direct contact with girls, which may be too much for you to handle now (or if you had to resort to the book, any time in your life).

You know what, just keep practicing the gravity thing. You'll get it, trust me. It's much easier than dealing with girls, in the long run anyway.

The final step- Putting an end to the slide of doom[edit]

Finally, the moment of truth is before you. You have the playground behind you, but your small empire is nothing without defeating the current ruler and winning over his gang. When you approach the slide, he will be positioned high above you, but don't be fooled- it is merely a foolish attempt to intimidate you. Do not climb the ladder, but instead make him slide down to your level. You are most comfortable with both feet on the ground, so make him fight you there. If you were to have confronted this group without first winning over the rest of the playground, the leader would have not even noticed you. Instead, his lackeys would steal your lunch money. But now that you have most of the class behind you, you're a threat that he simply can't ignore. He is in no position to order his group to help him either, because the playground would see this as cheap and weak; and even if he managed to defeat you anarchy would be sure to ensue until a new leader finally emerged victorious. This thing is going to be a one on one battle.

There is one key for this fight. Do you remember the bowser battle from that mario game? The one from the N64. That battle had deep undertones, ranging all the way from teaching discipline, to developing hand eye coordination. Everything you used to overcome bowser will help you overcome the playground bully. If you think back very hard, you'll remember you defeated bowser by grabbing his tail, and then swinging him violently, only to finally release him and send him plummeting into an explosive of some sort.

That's exactly what you need to do here. That's all I'm gonna say.

So now you're a playground master[edit]

Just remember that now you're in control, and whatever you say goes. You could make the playground a new place, where all children are equal and there are no bullies. A place where no child will have to go through the torture you were forced to confront. But forget that, you're the king now! You have but one thing left to do.

Nap time.